Editorial Preferences and Feet

feetArtwork rotates at our office. We’re a state agency, so we showcase local artwork on our walls. I don’t normally mind this, until The Dirty Feet. That wasn’t the actual name but I don’t remember the actual name.

This was a 2 x 3 foot canvas oil painting of the artist’s feet in mud. The color scheme was muted blues and yellows and all the warm grays in between. It had accurate perspective and appropriate use of shading. She’d incorporated bits of hay in the paint for texture. The skill of the artist was obvious; the time taken to complete such a work no doubt extensive.

It remained a portrait of bare feet in mud.

It hung behind me for months, and I cringed every time I considered I would be known as “the clerk under the feet.” *shudder*

Not saying the artist wasn’t good. She was. Not saying the skill wasn’t there. It was.

I’m saying I didn’t care for her subject matter.

It’s the same thing with writing. Writing is a skill, yes, but it’s also art. While I can appreciate the skill in many stories, I may not care for the subject matter. Doesn’t mean it’s bad. Just means it’s not my preference.

At Realm Makers in August, Jeff Gerke spoke briefly on the preferences of publishers. You can submit ’til the cows come home, but sometimes the publisher just doesn’t care for the subject matter. It’s not an insult; it’s a preference. It’s one of the many reasons your story doesn’t get published even though you have the skill to write well.

I don’t know why that artist chose feet, but she did. The price tag indicated she was proud of her work. Somewhere out there is someone who will love a portrait of muddy feet. I hope they find each other.

Use your skill to write what interests you, but keep in mind your subject matter may affect your reception with publishers. Fortunately, we live in a day and age where indie publishers are looking for unusual subject matter (instead of just saying they are) and self-publishing is easier and more accepted every day. You don’t have to paint the standard Monet landscape if you don’t want to.

Be encouraged. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Keep publishing, if that’s your desire. Someday you, too, will find your audience and they will follow your muddy feet anywhere you go.

About Robynn Tolbert

Born in Kansas and born again at age six, Robynn has published two novels and started her third. Robynn, aka Ranunculus Turtle, lives in Kansas with a clowder of cats, a patient dog and a garden.

2 comments on “Editorial Preferences and Feet

  1. Great perspective, Robynn. It’s funny how easily our feelings are crushed by rejections, as if it were a true measure of our artistic worth or our story’s value.

    Sometimes we need to keep improving our skills. And sometimes we just need to find the right audience. Either way, never lose hope!

    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Heh, good reminder. Feet in mud. Wow. Okay, that’s kind of … tacky. But some people really like it. Maybe she should submit it to some indie galleries. 😀

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